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Where to camp in Banff, Jasper and Yoho National Parks

If there’s one thing that I’ve learnt about camping in Canada, it’s that you can’t expect to rock up at a campsite in the summer and expect there to be a space. This is especially true when you try and camp in Banff, Jasper and Yoho National Parks in the summer.

Securing a camping spot at Banff, Jasper and Yoho requires some advance planning. I used to be pretty good at this, but now I don’t do much planning (unless it’s about things to do in the place I’m going to).

Usually with Elvis, we can pull up pretty much anywhere to spend the night. Indeed, that’s one of the biggest benefits of vanlife. However, this is not allowed in National Parks. You will get asked to move and you risk being fined too.

It makes sense if you think about it.

Parks Canada are protecting both the wildlife and you by enforcing this rule. And, even when the campsites in Banff and Jasper are full there are still overflow campsites.

The overflow campsite we stayed at on the Icefields Parkway, was up there with the best view of all the campsites in Banff and Jasper. We had an unobstructed view of the Athabasca Glacier!

We did stay in one official campsite which we booked a week before our 7 day road trip to Banff, Jasper and Yoho from Vancouver. I guess someone must’ve cancelled! But, I’d personally have been happy staying at the overflow campsites – they were perfectly good for somewhere to sleep at night (and a lot cheaper too!).

If you’re planning on camping during your road trip in the Canadian Rockies here’s what you need to know and where to camp in Banff, Jasper and Yoho.

Contents Table

Things to know before you camp in Banff, Jasper and Yoho National Parks

Parks Pass/Entrance Ticket

To camp in Canadian National Parks you will need a Parks Pass. These are available at visitor centres, campground kiosks and entry gates. You can also get a Parks Pass from MEC stores.

You don’t necessarily need an annual pass (although it’s worth it if you’ll be spending 7 plus days in the parks). However, you do have to pay an entrance fee which can be done at the same places mentioned above.

Your campsite reservation fees do not include the entrance fee to the parks.

Remember to display this on your dashboard/windscreen at all times.

Camping Permit

This is just your fee for using the camping facilities. Some campgrounds in Banff, Jasper and Yoho can be reserved online and others operate on a first come first served basis. That’s what the FCFS acronym on the Parks Canada website means (and yes, it took me a while to realise that at first).

Fire Permit

If you’re staying in a campground that allows fires, you’ll need to buy a fire permit. For reservable campsites, they’ll automatically add this to your booking and the cost includes firewood.

They did this to our Banff campsite booking and there was no option to remove it.

Note: During summer there may be a fire ban in action.

Pets

Pets are allowed in the campsites in Banff, Jasper and Yoho but must be kept on their leash at all times.

Be Bear Aware

Remember to be bear aware. All campsites have bear boxes where you can store food.

Never leave out any food or cooking utensils when you leave your campsite. Cool boxes are not bear safe and must be in your vehicle or in a bear box.

This keeps both you, and the bears safe.

For more information on bear safety while hiking and camping take a look at this post.

“Free Camping”

You might be tempted to find free camping in Banff, Jasper and Yoho National Parks. Don’t be.

There is no free camping and you’ll be asked to move.

Overflow campsites range from $10-$15 so are very reasonable AND legal.

Don’t Stress

Don’t stress out about finding somewhere to camp. Even in early August when the parks were rammed we found somewhere to, legally camp every night. And we didn’t even rock up early.

The Snaring Overflow in Jasper said it was full on the sign on the main road but there was plenty of space.

If you have a massive RV then you probably should arrive a bit early. But, if you’re in a tent, car or van you’ll be fine.

How to book campgrounds in Jasper, Banff and Yoho National Parks

All reservable campgrounds in Banff, Jasper and Yoho can be booked online. This must be done through the Parks website. If you’re camping just outside the National Parks you can book on the relevant provincial parks page.

Campground in Jasper

camping in Jasper national park
Bear sighting just a short walk from the overflow camping in Jasper

Jasper is still a busy place, bit it’s likely to be less busy than Banff which was heeeeaving when we went. You’ll still want to plan in advance to reserve a campsite.

Reservable campsites in Jasper National Park

where to camp in jasper
*Palisades is a ranch which you an rent a room in

There are a few campsites in Jasper than you can reserve. Three of them are close to Jasper town: Whistlers, Wabasso and Wapiti. You can also reserve Pocahontas to the east of the park near the Miette Hot Springs and the Sulphur Skyline trail.

Reservations to book a campground spot in summer open in January and you can book here.

Whistlers campground

There are over 780 campsites at Whistlers and they also have evening shows which makes it great for families.

If you want glamping check out the oTENTiks which are fully set up tents with beds, seating, heaters and a wooden floor. They’re good for 4 adults and 2 kids.

  • Open: Beginning of May to October.
  • Price: $27.40 to $38.20, oTENTiks: $120
  • Suitable for: everything

Note: Whistler campground is closed in 2019 for refurbishment. 

Wapiti campground

Wapiti campground in Jasper is on the banks of the Athabasca River. The campground has 362 sites in summer and is one of few that stays open in winter with 93 camping spots.

  • Open: all year round.
  • Price: $27.40 to $38.20
  • Suitable for: everything

Wabasso

Wabasso has some brilliant views of Jasper National Park. It’s a bit of a wilder camping experience as there are no showers. There are 231 sites.

  • Open: Mid-May to mid-September
  • Price: $21.50 to $27.40
  • Suitable for: Tents and RVs under 27ft long

Pocahontas

Pochaontas is similar to Wabasso in terms of facilities. It’s slightly more secluded than the above three so it’s ideal if you’re looking to get away from it all. There are 140 sites here.

  • Open: Mid-May to early September
  • Price: $21.50
  • Suitable for: Tents and RVs under 27ft long

First come first, served campsites in Jasper

There are several campsites in Jasper which operate on a first come, first served basis.

If you want to get a spot at one of these then aim to get there early in the morning and grab a spot as someone is leaving. Campers from the previous night have to check out at 11am but most people probably leave earlier than that.

Honestly, I don’t want to deal with the stress of finding a first come first, served campsite. I’d much rather be out exploring and then sleeping in an overflow campsite than crossing my fingers that I’ll get a spot at one of these.

But, if you want to be sure and don’t want to camp in an overflow then here is where to find FCFS campsites in Jasper.

Snaring campsite

Snaring is a little outside of Jasper town (about 15-20 minutes) but is a great spot. Some of the camping spots are alongside the river and you can see the mountain peaks which look beautiful at sunset. This campsite is a bit smaller with just 63 sites .

This is where we saw our first Jasper bear!

  • Open: Mid-May to late September
  • Price: $15.70
  • Suitable for: Tents and RVs under 27ft long

What if everywhere to camp in Jasper is full?

There’s just the one overflow campsite in Jasper. It’s called Snaring Overflow as it’s just across the bridge from the main Snaring campsite.

It cost $15.70 to stay here a night and there are pit toilets and drinking water.

We stayed here for two nights and loved it. PLUS the sky was SO clear when we stayed you could see thousands upon thousands of stars, some satellites and the Milky Way.

Camping on the Icefields Parkway

camping along the icefields parkway
Camping along the Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway is pretty big and so it’s best done in at least two days. We stayed at the Icefields Centre and it was such a great spot!

Things to know about camping on the Icefields Parkway

  • All camping along the Icefields Parkway is first come first served.  If you want to stay at one of these then arrive early as they get full quickly. If you want to stay here, don’t leave your campsite search for the end of the day. It’s best to pick one and go there early in the morning to get a spot and then go exploring.
  • There isn’t really any where to buy food between Jasper and Lake Louise. Make sure you’ve got plenty with you if you’re planning to camp on the Icefields Parkway and don’t want to drive back and forth.
  • There’s also no cell phone reception. You can get some free wifi in the Icefields Visitor Centre but it’s patchy.

Where to camp on the Icefields Parkway

Kerkeslin

Kerkeslin is a quiet, shady spot and tends to be a little forgotten about. If you are going to opt for a FCFS campsite then head for this one.

It’s a bit further out of Jasper, along the Icefields Parkway, so a great option for when you’re heading down that way.

  • Open: Mid-June to early September
  • Price: $15.70
  • Suitable for: Tents and RVs under 25ft long

Honeymoon Lake campground

A peaceful campsite on the lake, you’ll soon see how it got its name.  It’s a pretty small campsite with just 35 spaces, but that’s part of the reason it’s so nice.

  • Open: Mid-May to Mid-Sept
  • Price: $15.70
  • Suitable for: Tents and TVs under 25ft long

Jonas

This campsite along the Icefield Parkway is a little bit like backcountry camping, only you don’t have to hike a day to get there.

You can either camp near the river or head up a hill for more solitude and views from one of these 25 spots.

  • Open: Mid-May to early September
  • Price: $15.70
  • Suitable for: Tens and RVs under 25ft

Icefields

Icefields campsite is just a little way away from the Athabasca Glacier and the Icefields Centre. From most of the camping spots here you’ll be able to see a Glacier! Whilst this campsite with 33 spaces is tent only, there are log houses to cook in.

  • Open: Mid-May to early October
  • Price: $15.70
  • Suitable for: Tents only

Wilcox

Wilcox campsite is at the bottom of one of Jasper’s most popular hikes (full of wildflowers and bighorn sheep!) and has 46 spaces.

At this campsite you’re also close to the Columbia Icefield, but it’s more family friendly than the Icefields campsite.

  • Open: End of May to mid-Sept
  • Price: $15.70
  • Suitable for: RVs under 27ft

Mosquito Creek

Mosquito Creek is a great campsite for alpine climbers as it has easy access to Hector Mountain and the Hector Glacier. But even if you’re not into climbing then it’s a great place to stop for the night. It has 32 spots and pit toilets.

  • Open: Early June to early October
  • Price: $17.60
  • Suitable for: Tents & RVs under 35ft

Silverhorn Creek Campground

Silverhorn Creek is 52km north of Lake Louise and, as with pretty much all the campground on the Icefields Parkway, is very scenic. There’s no running water here but there is some available at Waterfowl Lakes campground, just 5km north.

  • Open: Late July to Early September
  • Price: $15.70
  • Suitable for: Tents and RVs under 35ft

Waterfowl Lakes Campground

This campground is split into three sections; RV’s, tents near the lower lake and then walk in tent sites. The Waterfowl Lakes are beautiful and are fed by the Mistaya River. The upper lake is the prettier of the two and is just a short walk from the most south end of the campground. There are 116 camping spots here, running water and flush toilets.

  • Open: Late June to early September
  • Price: $21.50
  • Suitable for: Tents and RVs under 30ft

Rampart Creek Campground

Rampart Creek is a great camping spot for people who want that more authentic camping experience. The campground has amazing scenery, plenty of nearby hiking trails and you may see some wildlife too. There are just 50 campsites here all of which have picnic tables and fireboxes.

  • Open: Early June to early October
  • Price: $17.60
  • Suitable for: Tents and small RVs up to 25ft

What if all the campsites on the Icefields Parkway are full?

camping on the icefields parkway
Morning views on the icefields parkway

The Icefields Centre

You can park in the carpark of the Icefields Centre right across from the Athabasca Glacier. The views are amazing! You can only camp here overnight if you’re in a vehicle. There are pit toilets but no water.

  • Open: Mid-April to end of October
  • Price: $15.70
  • Suitable for: RVs, vans & trailers

Where to camp in Banff National Park

Banff has some absolutely ginormous campsites but that doesn’t mean you’ll find spaces… You’ll still want to book early if you need electric hook up and want more comfort than an overflow spot.

Reservable campsites in Banff

where to camp in banff and lake louise

Two Jack Campgrounds

The Two Jack campgrounds are divided into Two Jack Main and Two Jack Lakeside. Unsurprisingly Two Jack Lakeside is right on the banks of Two Jack Lake. If you manage to secure a spot on a lakefront campsite then you’ll be lucky! They looked beautiful!

Only Lakeside has showers and both have flush toilets. There are roughly 800 camping spots at the Two Jack campgrounds. Two Jack Lakeside also has 10 oTENTiks

  • Open: Two Jack Main is open from end of June to early September, Two Jack Lakeside is open lake May to end of September
  • Price: $21.50 – $70 | oTENTiks: $120
  • Suitable for: everyone

Tunnel Mountain Campgrounds

camping in banff tunnel mountain (1 of 1)
Our camp spot in Banff

There are three Tunnel Mountain campgrounds; Tunnel MountainVillage I, Tunnel Mountain Village II and Tunnel Mountain Trailer. These campsites are just 5km out of Banff town and a bus that’s free one-way will take you into town and back.

We stayed in Tunnel Mountain Village I and it was a nice spot. Despite the fact the campsite is huge, there’s still a decent amount of privacy and each spot is quite big. There are toilets, washing up facilities showers and drinking water. There are also some evening shows towards the end of every week which are fun for families.

I imagine Tunnel Mountain Village II is very similar to I. Tunnel Mountain Trailer looks okay, but some spots are very close to the road and there wasn’t much shade or privacy.

There are also 21 oTENTiks available at Tunnel Mountain Village II.

In all there are about 1000 camping spots at the Tunnel Mountain campsites.

  • Open: Early May to Mid/End September
  • Price: $27.40 – $38.20 | oTENTiks: $120
  • Suitable for: Everyone

Johnston Canyon

Johnston Canyon is along the Bow Valley Parkway so it’s a little way out of Banff. Chances are you’ll be visiting Johnston Canyon at some point during your visit to Banff anyway and if you stay here make sure you visit the canyon early or you’ll have to queue up to see the waterfalls like we did…

This campsite has a shower and flush toilets and is smaller than the two above which are closer to town with 132 spaces.

  • Open: End of May to end of September
  • Price: $27.40
  • Suitable for: Tents and RVs smaller than 27ft

Lake Louise Tent & Trailer

First come first served camping in Banff

The two FCFS campsites in Banff are along the drive between Banff and Lake Louise (closer to Lake Louise).

Castle Mountain

Castle Mountain sits at the bottom of the aptly named Castle Mountain (surprise, it looks like a castle!). It’s about 34km from Banff and 28km from Lake Louise. There are 43 spaces at this campsite and flush toilets.

  • Open: End of May to End of September
  • Price: $21.40
  • Suitable for: Tents and trailers under 24ft

Protection Mountain

Protection Mountain is also along the Bow Valley Parkway about 17km east of Lake Louise. It’s a great scenic spot away from the towns of Banff and Lake Louise.

  • Open: End of June to beginning of September
  • Price: $21.40
  • Suitable for: All

What if all the campsites in Banff are full?

Tunnel Mountain has some overflow spots. They’re apparently not suitable for tents and will cost about $10. Slightly nicer than the gravel car park at Lake Louise (below), but it’s just somewhere for the night not ‘camping’ in the sense that you can sit outside at a picnic table.

Camping in Lake Louise

camping in lake louise banff alberta

We found Lake Louise to be exceptionally busy. I imagine reservable campsites go super quick. If you’re sleeping in a camper van or RV then you should be able to get a spot in the overflow camping if you’re there before 8pm.

Reservable campsites in Lake Louise

There is just one big reservable campsite and Lake Louise which is split into two areas; one for tents and the other for vehicles. Anyone staying here in a tent must camp within the electric fence. This also includes RVs and vans with popup/pop out tents. There are electric hook ups available, showers and flush toilets.

It’s not the most scenic campsite on this list but you are close to Lake Moraine and Lake Louise so it’s good for that early wake up call you’ll have to have to visit these icons!

  • Open: Late June to end of September
  • Price: $27.40 – $32.30
  • Suitable for: All

What if all the campsites in Lake Louise are full?

Lake Louise has overflow camping. This is also the overflow car park during the day from where you can take the shuttle bus to Lake Louise town and lake.

It is just a gravel car park but it’s fine for the night.

They tend to keep the overflow camping to the right hand side as you drive in but it was full when we stayed there and people camped up on the left hand side too.

  • Price: Just over $10
  • Suitable for: RVs/Camper vans

Where to camp in Yoho National Park

Yoho National Park is a lot smaller than Banff and Jasper when you look at the amount of places you can get to by car. There are only four campgrounds here. I loved Yoho National Park (especially when compared to it’s neighbour Lake Louise).

If you’re booking campground in advance and can’t find space at Lake Louise, I’d definitely look at Yoho National Park. Especially Kicking Horse and Monarch campgrounds as they offer easy access to Lake Louise and Banff.

where to camp in Yoho National Park

Campgrounds in Yoho National Park

takkakaw falls yoho national park

All the campgrounds in Yoho National Park operate on a first come, first served basis.

Takakkaw Falls Campground

This FCFS campground has 35 walk in sites (tents only). It’s very basic but you’ll be close to the incredibly Takakkaw Falls. The falls get super busy during the day so staying here gives you a chance to see them before people arrive and after they’ve gone.

  • Open: Late June to early October
  • Price: $17.60
  • Suitable for: Tents only

Kicking Horse

This is the largest campground in Yoho with 88 sites (so tiny compared to some in Banff!). This campground has riverside sites, secluded tree sites and an open meadow with views of Cathedral Mountain.

It’s a great base for exploring the main sites in Yoho Natural Park and there are two short walking trails that start here.

  • Open: End of July to early October
  • Price: $27.40
  • Suitable for: All

Monarch Campground

Monarch Campground has bright, sunny campsites under the historic Monarch mine shafts. There’s a good chance you’ll see some wildlife on the Kicking Horse River flats or some big horn sheep and mountain goats on the cliffs.

This is the second biggest campground in Yoho with 44 sites.

  • Open: Early May to early September
  • Price: $17.60
  • Suitable for: Tents and small RVs

Hoodoo Creek campground

This campsite is on the western edge of Yoho National Park. It’s the smallest of the four offerings in Yoho with just 30 spots. It’s situated in a sunny open meadow with views of Mt. Hunter. Take an evening stroll to the historic Deer Lodge Cabin or a hike to the infamous Hoodoos.

  • Open: Mid May – early September
  • Price: $15.70
  • Suitable for: Tents and small RVs

Useful guides for planning your Canadian Rockies road trip

Resources that’ll help with your road trip to Banff and Jasper from Vancouver

RV & Campervan rentals

Canada Parks Pass

GasBuddy – great for finding the cheapest gas. Fill up in Alberta before heading back into BC as it’s so much cheaper!

Booking.com for your hotels

RentalCars.com for your get around in the Rockies

Skyscanner: Get your cheap flights to Vancouver, Calgary or Edmonton

Other Banff, Jasper & Yoho National Parks posts

Everywhere you can camp in Banff, Jasper & Yoho National Parks

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